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USAID launches early-grade learning books in local languages for South East, South West 

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in conjunction with the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council  (NERDC), has launched the new Igbo and Yoruba early grade reading materials titled “Ka anyi gụo” and “Jẹ ká kawe” (Let’s Read) for children in South west and South east regions of the country.

These resources are to expand the availability of quality local language teaching and learning materials for reading, targeting all Igbo and Yoruba speaking primary grade 1 to 3 learners in the southern region. 

Speaking at the virtual launch of the books, USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson said teaching children to read in a language they understand equips them with a powerful tool for lifelong learning. 

Developed by Research and Development Council with support from USAID Northern Education Initiative (NEI), the new curricula will be available for any interested state to adopt, print, and distribute with their own resources. 

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The curriculum is tailored for a 21st century audience of emerging readers, rich with culturally relevant stories, colourful pictures, gender-balanced representation, and a clear sequence of content that gradually builds upon the abilities of each learner as new skills and proficiencies are acquired. 

According to USAID, the books promote active learner engagement, comprehension and critical thinking through three levels of instruction that ensure learners develop critical skills necessary for all aspiring readers: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. 

Speaking at the event, Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who promised that government would continue to partner USAID to provide basic education services that promote self-reliance, said the ministry recognised efforts of the project in the last four years to improve literacy in Northern Nigeria through its innovative early grade reading programme.

He said USAID-NEI Plus has improved reading skills for more than 952,565 pupils, trained 9,600 teachers, and distributed more than six million teaching and learning materials to schools, while about 262,793 out-of-school children from educationally disadvantaged communities have improved their basic and literacy skills and mainstreamed to formal schools after completing a nine-month non-formal education programme.

He said the ministry is also building national expertise for early grade reading through a four-month postgraduate course through which 42 education professionals from states and Federal MDAs have graduated.

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